Make or Break Day for the NBA, Union

After a 12-hour plus negotiating session that bled into early Thursday morning, the NBA and players union are back at the bargaining table this afternoon in what is being billed as a make or break meeting.

David Stern acknowledged that both sides went well past his own 5 p.m. wednesday deadline for the player’s union to accept the NBA’s latest offer. However, in what could be considered a good sign, both sides continued negotiating and only ended their session due to the late hours of the night. Today’s meeting is an extension of last night’s negotiations.

The players feel as though they have already conceded 4.5% of their BRI and it is unlikely they are willing to move past 52.5% (from 57%). Meanwhile, the NBA offered a take it or leave it 49 to 51 BRI split along with contracts not lasting longer for 5 years if the player stays with his current team and four years for free agents, as well as a soft salary cap, according to ESPN.com

If a deal does not get made today there is a good possibility that the player’s union will decertify. I encourage anyone who is interested in learning about decertification and its impact to read Larry Coon’s Nov. 5 column. I would also recommend to follow him on Twitter (@larrycoon) for the latest information and explanations of that complicated info.

Here’s a rather large snippet from Coon’s column:

Once the union decertifies, the collective bargaining process would be over — there literally would be no union with which the owners could negotiate. Billy Hunter, Derek Fisher and the other players on the executive committee would no longer be in charge — as a practical matter, control would pass to attorneys. The players also could not reassemble the union for one year without the league’s consent. However, such consent obviously would be granted if the two sides eventually cut a deal.
Once the union decertifies, the owners could pursue one of three strategies:

  • They can end the lockout, open the doors to the players and start doing business without a salary cap or any of the other mechanisms that existed in the CBA. They would be abandoning the very protections for which they are locking out the players, and which they have enjoyed for decades.
  • They can end the lockout, open the doors to the players and unilaterally impose a new set of work rules without collective bargaining. This strategy would surely result in an antitrust challenge by the players. It would also implement an economic system the owners don’t want, as the new rules would be designed to withstand such a challenge.
  • They can continue the lockout, hoping to wear down the players. This strategy would also be met with an antitrust suit, and the owners would be hoping that the players wear down before the hammer falls. This is the most likely of the three scenarios.

I hope it does not come to decertification. From what I can gather, decertification puts the NBA season in the court’s hands. The lockout has been in effect for 133 days now, longer than the NFL lockout, which also had its union decertify.

Not exactly the look of a leader

I know some see last night’s session as progress. I would have to disagree. Cynically, both two sides sat across the table from each other for 12 plus hours, with a deadline and the possibility of decertification looming over them, and could not deliver any evidence of significant progress. I have little faith that today’s negotiations would yield different results. Hopefully, I am dead wrong.

While decertifying the union would give the players much needed leverage against the owners, it will also increase the likelihood that more regular season games and possibly the entire 2011-2012 season will be canceled.

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